In August, 2013, I got a call from my buddy Matt. He told me that he had called in a favor and acquired a day off and a Toyota Land Cruiser that could get us up to the toe of the Tuyuksu Glacier. For the entire year before, I had walked on the gnarly 4×4 road more times than I could count, so I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to crush that road in leather-bound comfort on the way to Lokomotiv Peak, an objective that normally takes one day to get to and one day to climb.
This was also my first experience climbing on a glacier without skis, strictly for the purpose of climbing a mountain. This style of mountaineering is hard to do in Colorado, but it was good to work on climbing while roped up and using crampons on boots that can’t be used for skiing.
The climb and descent were great, but the thing that blew me away about this climb was the views from the top. This was the furthest I have ventured into the Tien Shan mountains of Kazakhstan, and they only get bigger and better the further south I have gone. The pictures hardly give the views justice.
Not knowing what we were getting into, I brought my avalanche gear, but stashed it at the bottom of the climb to save on weight. This prevented us from doing a bigger traverse over to Molodojne, so we descended down Lokomotiv’s ice cap, the scree climb to Tuyuksu glacier, found the stashed gear on the very similar-looking glacier edge, and headed back to the Land Cruiser.
We got back to the car and down the road in such good time that Matt even made it in to the office for a few hours of work. Access is everything, and removing the 4+ hour hike in by car made this climb relatively simple and beautiful. Huge thanks to Matt and his coworker that let us take the car, it made for a wonderful summer morning I hope to repeat this Spring, hopefully with skis on!